According to a recent survey commissioned by American Well, two-thirds of Americans are willing to use telehealth. But when it comes to behavioral health, that’s not true: only 30 percent of the survey’s respondents would be willing to use it for counseling or other mental health services.
Why is that important? It leaves a lot of room for large retailers to expand into that area. Walmart is taking the first big step in doing so; it is launching its first standalone primary care clinic, called Walmart Health, in Dallas, Georgia. In that clinic, patients will be able to receive primary care services including immunizations, lab tests, dental care, optometry, audiology, and behavioral health services.
If the program is successful, sources told Business Insider, Walmart will likely scale up its Walmart Health facilities across its nearly 5,000 locations. It makes financial sense for the company to do so; health and wellness made up about 9 percent of its $332 billion total revenue for its last fiscal year. Walmart may also be defending itself against digital disruption in the pharmacy space by investing in dedicated clinical locations for services that require personal interaction such as lab procedures and dental work.
Walmart’s focus on mental health could ensure Walmart Health’s success, especially as there is a dire need for more behavioral health providers throughout the rural United States and, although telehealth companies are using their tech to reach patients needing behavioral health services, most people, as the American Well survey noted, would rather receive these services in person.
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